“The storytellers deal with a whole spectrum of inner issues. Like being too short; too unpopular; too boring; not bright enough; not talented enough; not nice enough; being too poor; too ‘stush’; too weird; too different; too ordinary.
“Issues like being a middle child; an ‘unloved’ child; a rebellious child. Or issues like dealing with broken bones and broken dreams; or about getting off-track and getting back on-track…
“The storytellers, even the famous, confident, self-assured ones—like ESPN personality Shaka Hislop—describe journeys that began quite differently. Journeys that self-doubt and frustration threatened to cut short.”
Former school teacher and cultural activist, Andre Moses, offers a book review of “My Story, My Secrets”—which is a collection of 22 motivational short stories by mentors and achievers:
In this world of tweets and comments, writing and/or publishing books is a tricky business. But there are times when we need a bit more time and space to express our thoughts.
While less is more is a very useful saying, there are exceptions to this rule—particularly so, when we are trying to force complex issues into over-simplified models of everyday reality.
The book “My Story, My Secrets—Letters to My Younger Self” is a collection of twenty-two stories written in the form of a letter from one’s older self to one’s younger self.
I must commend the editors—Carlos Lee, Sherwyn Besson and Aisha Lee—for utilising this novel approach to reaching a school age and/or millennial audience; and also for discovering such a creative way to fill that void of ‘loneliness’ that is a much-neglected part of growing up.
The target audience for the publication is the younger generation: that self-same sound-bite and abbreviation-savvy generation to whom twenty-two stories spread across approximately 130 pages might be a bit of a heavy lift.
For them, reading books is connected with school and passing exams. Outside of that, reading is mainly for entertainment, and boredom; that ever-lurking threat to their need for instant gratification, is measured in characters rather than in paragraphs and chapters.
So for Carlos and company, the first challenge is to get the teenage/millennial grouping to pick up the book; and next, to read a publication with ‘plenty writing’ and ‘only a few pictures’.
The strategy of getting some ‘attention-grabbers’ to front the book-concept is a good one. Shaka Hislop, Russell Latapy, Brian Lewis, Lasana Liburd and Kizzie Ruiz are well-known sporting, media and cultural personalities, whose stories might well stir up some curiosity.
The Older-to-Younger-Self angle is an interesting one. It allows young people to set the discussion agenda. The storytellers were once young and they can vividly remember their adolescent struggles—some of them ‘embarrassing’ and many of them secret and very personal.
The storytellers deal with a whole spectrum of inner issues. Like being too short; too unpopular; too boring; not bright enough; not talented enough; not nice enough; being too poor; too ‘stush’; too weird; too different; too ordinary.
Issues like being a middle child; an ‘unloved’ child; a rebellious child. Or issues like dealing with broken bones and broken dreams; or about getting off-track and getting back on-track.
The storytellers, even the famous, confident, self-assured ones—like ESPN personality Shaka Hislop—describe journeys that began quite differently. Journeys that self-doubt and frustration threatened to cut short.
They also describe people, mentors, friends or family members who helped; and make reference to lonely times when they felt isolated and vulnerable. They identify ‘wrong turns’, mistakes made, and detail journeys to find their way back to their individual pathways of success.
The storytellers also identify lessons learnt and discoveries made in their journeys along Success Road. They each describe their successes as a process; a process of discovery.
Discovering how to work through tough periods; find your purpose; appreciate your beauty; follow your passion; allow for time to heal the body and the spirit; learning to not compare yourself to images of perfection that are not real; stay in the game long enough to achieve success; open unlocked doors so that you can see what is on the other side.
It is also about expressing yourself; being curious and having fun; having a plan; building friendships; and dreaming big.
Twenty-two stories chronicling more than twenty years of the individual experiences of successful people; ordinary people—each with a special talent—who discovered their own pathways of success and shared it, so that others might be inspired to do the same and in turn inspire someone else.
As I reviewed the publication, I found that no one story spoke precisely to my own experiences as a youngster growing up; but as I carefully read through the various stories, there were so many experiences with which I could identify. It certainly bought me back to familiar times and spaces.
My Story, My Secrets—Letters to My Younger Self in twenty-two stories and 130 pages will give readers a longer view of Success: success as a journey and not a destination.
I must confess that some stories appealed to me more than others, as did some of the personalities and writing styles. Each story, however, added a different dimension to the collection of experiences and therein had its own validity.
Don’t worry if you know that you will not read the book all at once. You can go back to it in those times when you are in need of support, encouragement, inspiration or even advice. Remember too, that the book is not a novel. Do not read it for entertainment. Read it for perspective.
“If I only knew then, what I know now…”
Ordinarily that would be impossibility. However reading about how twenty-two ordinary persons found a way to harness their talents, overcome their challenges and succeed, can put some of the ‘then’ in ‘now’ and bestow on us the wisdom of afterthought.
Accordingly, I would like to highly recommend this publication to schools, youth groups and developmental organisations or for anyone in a solitary space in need of some inspiration.
Editor’s Note: My Story, My Secrets—Letters to My Younger Self is available online at mystory-mysecrets.com or can also be purchased at Jadoo’s Trading Ltd in Arima or at Charran’s Bookstores, Level 1, Trincity Mall.